Original Research

Critical elements in defining work-based identity in a post-apartheid South Africa

Sandra Lloyd, Gert Roodt, Aletta Odendaal
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 37, No 1 | a894 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v37i1.894 | © 2011 Sandra Lloyd, Gert Roodt, Aletta Odendaal | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 February 2010 | Published: 04 August 2011

About the author(s)

Sandra Lloyd, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Gert Roodt, Faculty of Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Aletta Odendaal, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Share this article

Bookmark and Share


Orientation: The main focus of the study was to answer the question: ‘Who am I at work?’ in a post-apartheid South African organisation.

Research purpose: The aim of the specific research questions was to determine which life sphere and life role elements, and which work-based identity facets were significant in forming work-based identity.

Motivation for the study: The findings of the study will enable the formulation of an integrative definition of work-based identity applicable to the South African context.

Research design, approach and method: Qualitative data was collected by means of unstructured interviews with 29 employees representing a range of job titles, levels and demographics in a large South African manufacturing company. A grounded theory approach (open and axial coding) was used to analyse the data.

Main findings: Distinctive individual self-definitions and a number of common themes integrating social and personal identity perspectives emerged from the data. These themes provided a sound basis for the proposed integrative model to define work-based identity.

Practical/managerial implications: The findings of this research will assist human resource practitioners to develop training interventions and management strategies for the potential enhancement of work-based identities. This will result in a more engaged and harmonised workforce.

Contribution/value-add: This was the first study of its kind to identify and delineate significant work-based identity elements for the formation of a work-based identity within a South African work context.


Work-based identity; elements; definition; qualitative research design; interpretivist approach; multiple case study; manufacturing company; South African context


Total abstract views: 4936
Total article views: 12911

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.